Book Review: Dictionary of Financial Remedies

Dictionary of Financial Remedies

Hess & Duckworth

£50 - Published by Class Legal: October 2013

Dictionary of Financial Remedies is not just a new book, it is a new idea, at least within my experience. Written by District Judge Edward Hess and Peter Duckworth of Matrimonial Property and Finance fame, the Dictionary, which will be updated annually, claims to be "a unique new reference guide to the key concepts, cases and practice of financial remedies". It comprises a list of financial remedy topics arranged alphabetically (hence the dictionary title), from 'Agreements' to (appropriately) 'Xydias Agreements', plus tables. Only fifty-eight of the topics have substantive entries - the others referring to the appropriate substantive one(s).

The substantive entries comprise not just a piece of text explaining the topic, but also extracts from relevant authorities and even, where appropriate, precedent orders (making the Dictionary particularly useful at court). Entries are also cross-referenced to other relevant topics.

The entries are intended to cover all of those topics one is most likely to come across when dealing with financial remedies work. Thus, we have such things as child maintenance, consent orders, pensions and variation applications included. Also covered are factors that the court will take into account on financial remedy applications such as conduct, needs and the sharing principle. Procedural matters are also dealt with, for example bundles, FDRs and joinder.

There are, obviously, many financial remedy topics omitted from the Dictionary (just compare it to the index of a 'full-size' text on the subject), but that is to miss the point. The Dictionary is not intended to be comprehensive - as stated above, it is intended to cover key concepts only, and to be used as a quick and convenient reference (particularly when out of the office), rather than as a text book.

That said, there are some topics that are strangely omitted, even if they are covered in the substantive entries. Examples that spring to mind are 'section 25', 'income', 'earning capacity' and 'lump sum order'. I suppose this is just the usual issue with dictionaries (or book indexes, come to that) of having to come up with the right term in order to find what you are looking for.

Obviously, in a book this size (88 A4 pages), there are likely to be some compromises, but the important question is whether the entries in the Dictionary are sufficiently complete to be useful. The proof of this will, of course, be in the using but certainly my feeling when reading the Dictionary was that it does cover each topic in sufficient depth that the reader should not usually be left reaching for that fat text book on the shelf (or wishing they had brought the text book with them to court).

In a foreword to the Dictionary Sir James Munby (who seems to be everywhere at the moment) expresses the opinion that it will "soon become an essential part of every practitioner's toolkit". With the proviso that that ever-enlarging toolkit may be getting somewhat unwieldy, I suspect that he may be right.

Dictionary of Financial Remedies can be purchased from Class Legal, here.